“In the 90s, being a professional animator in Singapore could only be a dream,” Tiny Island Productions’ founder David Kwok told Cartoon Brew.
Kwok’s dream has since come true, more so now that Discover Family Channel announced it is adding Tiny Islands’ animated dimensional adventure Dream Defenders to its lineup, which is spearheaded by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Transformers Rescuebots.
“This is not the first exposure to Dream Defenders in United States,” Kwok told us via e-mail after Discovery’s announcement this week. “Our first was on 3net,” which has since closed, “and then followed by Hulu.”
Tiny Island Productions, one of Singapore’s’s largest and oldest CG animation production companies, has come a long way since “the early part of our animation industry,” Kwok said, referring to a period that was only a decade-and-a-half ago. “We wanted to build a company that allows the passionate animators in Singapore to pursue their dreams, as well as make a living out of this profession. Dream Defenders was created with this mission in mind.”
Dream Defenders follows teenage twins Zoey and Zane Mercer as they slipstream — with the help of a supercomputer named Zeus, which they find in the attic of their new home — between their new city Meridian and a fantastic dreamworld jeopardized by the villainess Icela. Discovery will announce the U.S. premiere of the 26-episode series at a later date.
“We are excited to bring this high quality CGI series from Tiny Island to the network’s robust daytime lineup,” said Discovery general manager Tom Cosgrove in a statement.
So too is Kwok, who started Singapore’s first Animation Association in the late 1990s and runs the training/mentorship program CG Protege Animation School, which supplies his own studio with many of its production crew. After giving up a high-paying computer-aided design job in the Singaporean government in 2000, Kwok got to work building up the nation’s animation bonafides, eventually scaling up Tiny Island in 2007 and landing work on programs like Shelldon and G-Fighter, as well as Ben 10‘s CGI telemovie, Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens, which won best 3D animated program award at the Asian Television Awards in 2012.
But Dream Defenders is Kwok’s proudest production. “I hope that Dream Defenders will do well internationally someday to defend our dream, and to bring Tiny Island onto the global stage,” he said. The studio is currently producing the first Singapore/Korea CGI series co-production, G-Fighter, in collaboration with South Korea’s Electric Circus.
In this 70-minute talk, Kwok explains how he started a studio from scratch and eventually scaled up to 120 employees and original content production.